A keen eye for detail. A very, almost obsessive-compulsive, distinguished habit of fixing every little feature of a task.
I recently found a picture my mother or father had taken of me drawing cartoon characters. The specific time is something that I vividly recall. I was around five years of age and had received a ‘how to’ book which taught the basics of character sketching. The photo was a reminder of what I’ve become very aware of within recent years: the attention to detail, and the perfectionism accompanying my mannerisms.
Drawing pictures, characters, landscapes, animals and faces was something I had enjoyed as a kid. I can honestly say that the interest, and skill, was eventually replaced by more harmful things as I grew older. The innocence of the child with a few pencils and crayons was replaced with the restlessness of the adult topics. I had to think about sex, drugs, violence, the undefined stress that I was beginning to experience and the constant wonder of why my personal world was so damn cruel. All forced upon me by the oblivious grown-ups I was exposed to. I began to obsessively attempt to take control of the life that, just a few years prior, was simply seen as pleasing as I had sketched the fun and beautiful things found within it.
It may be a stretch, and a possible false view of myself, but I wonder if the early trauma I had experienced when I was not even old enough to speak was manifested within my perfectionism when drawing? Did I somehow believe that disorder was just a natural part of the life I was just beginning to become acquainted with?
I remember the drawings: the lines. I remember the nearly finished pictures being wadded up and thrown away. Something being “wrong” within it. It wasn’t perfect. It was a total waste, and I had failed. Even if a stroke of a line was “off,” I would again, wad up the paper and throw it away. It was so difficult to make a good thing out of an already great thing in the eyes of others. I would get so many compliments on the little pieces I would do, but to me, it was less than okay.
I suppose we all do this to certain extents. We all at times tend to believe that we could have been or done something, “better.”
What causes us to become what we believe about ourselves? Why do we insist that we stay the way that we are accustomed to, instead of recognizing the potential that is achievable by changing what we already know to be displeasing?
The perfectionism still creeps in at times, but the difference between then and now is the recognition of its leverage. Tidiness and neatness is valued, because I personally enjoy taking care of the things I have worked so hard for, but having everything in a perfect way and order is no longer a necessity all of the time. I suppose raising children, and seeing that Gods’ plans are nothing like I had or have anticipated, caused me to see, with more clarity, that absolutely nothing in life is perfect. Nothing, except God Himself. I also have come to realize that the perfectionism within my life had me walking a wire when it pertained to faith. I had a constant fear of ‘not being good enough’ for the Lord. I was not good enough for anything or anyone, ever. The house had to be perfect. My yard. My vehicle had to be perfect. My life had to be in perfect order. The mind, body and spirit was something that I personally had to perfect. The binding beliefs that controlled me had me on a daily mission to clean every facet to a pristine luster, with a result not even close to acceptable. Not satisfactory within my own eye, and especially not within the eye of God!
I found that the only thing that is truly clean within my life is that which has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. That one thing being my imperfection (sin) in the eye of God. The acknowledgement and acceptance of His sacrifice has cleansed what has impaired and disfigured me. It has allowed me to stop walking that wire of fear and reverently serve Him with honor.
I spend a great amount of time observing myself and what I truly am. I think it is necessary because of the understanding I’ve recently started to develop. An understanding of the complete lack of perfection. Nothing is, ever was or will be perfect outside of God. It is only Christ in us (God within), His Holy Spirit who speaks life to us, that is perfect in our lives. It is that understanding that has caused me to take a chill pill and accept what is observed. It is through His voice that I am able to place my error aside instead of wadding it up and throwing it away. I can observe the error later and compare it to the progress made within the new and current. I can glorify that process and progressive mastery that HE ALONE has made. The little labels that I attach to failures are becoming more easily observed as the marred characteristics of sin. I can see the perfection, with a less distorted view, that awaits when leaving the physical world. The perfectionism is only attainable in Him.